Championship position retained at Rockingham
STOP PRESS: A post-race 30-second penalty for the #17 TF Sport car means that the #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin is promoted to third place at Rockingham
The Beechdean AMR team had a hard day at the office on Sunday, finishing in fourth place at the two-hour Rockingham round of the 2018 British GT Championship. The driving duo of Andrew Howard and Darren Turner just missed out on a podium finish but crucially retain third place in the GT3 Drivers’ Championship standings.
The wet weather on Saturday made what was already a green track extra slippery and Howard and Turner qualified the #99 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 in eighth place for the start of Sunday’s two-hour race.
Howard was on starting duty on Sunday and he got a good getaway, moving up a place on Lap 1 by making a move on a Bentley before gaining another place and holding sixth. The safety car had a busy afternoon, making the first of many appearances at the 20-minute mark as a stricken McLaren was recovered from the track. Throughout the drama Howard stayed focused and got stuck into the battle, with positions being traded throughout the opening stint. He pitted from fifth to hand the Aston Martin over to Turner.
“My opening stint started well,” said Howard. “It’s great to be back in British GT as you get close racing and really good driving standards. The safety cars, although they give you a breather, also break your momentum so the car struggled for grip after both of those. I was happy to make it to the end of my run in fifth place.”
Turner joined the race and was running in third position once everyone had completed a pit stop but he soon reported that he was struggling for grip. The Aston Martin Racing works driver then had a very tough stint trying to defend his position. Despite a determined effort a podium finish slipped away in the dying moments of the race but he took fourth at the chequered flag, gathering enough points to retain a strong position in the championship.
“We’ve been on the back foot this weekend,” said Turner. “From the word go in that stint there was no front end grip so even getting the car slowed down to turn in was difficult. That then means that you keep missing the apex, which makes defending a very hard thing to do. In reality we were third on the road but not with strong pace and I was doing everything I could to keep the Bentley behind me, even resorting to almost stopping at the apex’s to upset his flow. Unfortunately at Turn 4 on the penultimate lap, I ran a bit wide past the apex and that was enough for the Bentley to get the drive to get past on run to Turn 5. He was ready to pounce and did exactly what he had to do.”
Andrew Howard summed up the Rockingham result, saying “The result was far better than we expected but not as good as we hoped!”
The British GT Championship resumes in four weeks’ time with a double-header of 60-minute races at Snetterton in Norfolk.